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Women are an integral part of the military, comprising 17.2 percent of the active-duty force. They are the fastest-growing subpopulation in the military. In recent years, the Department of Defense (DoD) and military services have been deliberately recruiting women because they represent a higher percentage of the recruitable population than their male counterparts. Service women and their civilian counterparts have been and are serving in roles that are essential to military readiness.

The Dobbs v. Jackson Supreme Court ruling will limit service women's and DoD civilian women's access to reproductive health care and affect the health of these critical populations. In this Perspective, the authors use publicly available data to provide an estimate of the scope of the effects of the decision on the health and readiness of the U.S. armed forces. They estimate how many military-employed women's reproductive health options have been or might soon be limited and identify force readiness–related concerns, such as effects on the military health care, education, and child care systems, as well as on military recruiting and retention.

This research was sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).

This commentary is part of the RAND expert insight series. RAND Expert Insights present perspectives on timely policy issues. All RAND Expert Insights undergo peer review to ensure high standards for quality and objectivity.

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